The 1986 San Marino Grand Prix has gone down as one of the most bizarre in Formula One history, with just four drivers finishing the race as teams struggled with fuel consumption issues on this day in 1986.
Imola, which last welcomed Formula One in 2006, had always been notoriously tough on the fuel tanks, requiring drivers to manage their cars carefully for 60 laps of racing.
The race turned into a battle between Nelson Piquet and Alain Prost, who drove for Williams and McLaren respectively. Piquet looked to build up a lead at the start before managing his fuel consumption during the middle of the race, and then pushing towards the end of the grand prix to take the win. However, this backfired as he eventually finished P2 with plenty of fuel to spare, and he had only done so after Keke Rosberg ran out of fuel when defending second place.
At the front, Prost managed to perfect his strategy and fuel management to win the race by seven seconds. It would prove to be a crucial win come the end of the season, with the Frenchman finishing three points (the exact difference between P1 and P2) ahead of Piquet to win his second world championship.
Only seven cars actually managed to finish the race, with just the top two on the same lap. Despite not finishing, Rosberg and Riccardo Patrese finished in the points by virtue of completing more laps than three other finishers.
Car No.: 27
Best Finish: P6 (Spain, Great Britain, Belgium, Abu Dhabi)
Pole Positions: 0
Fastest Laps: 0
Championship Position: 10th
Expectations were hard to peg for Renault heading into its second full season back in F1 with a factory team, but Nico Hulkenberg was surely expected to be the man spearheading its charge.
With teammate Jolyon Palmer severely underperforming, Hulkenberg did exactly that, bringing home all but 14 of the team’s points in the final standings. However, consistency was never something he truly found.
Many of Renault’s issues were down to reliability issues, sidelining Hulkenberg for six races – four coming in a five-race stint from Singapore to Mexico – yet he only scored points in consecutive races on three occasions.
When Hulkenberg and Renault were on form, they proved to be a potent combination, often topping the midfield fight and even looking faster than Force India come the end of the season. His run to sixth at the final race in Abu Dhabi was crucial for the constructors’ championship as Renault jumped Toro Rosso, securing an extra slice of prize money in the process.
But for a driver who was so often tipped as being a future star in F1, Hulkenberg still has a lot to prove. Renault is set to offer a good platform for the German moving forward with factory support, yet if he cannot beat new teammate Carlos Sainz Jr. through 2018, concerns will surely be raised.
Season High: Charging to sixth in Abu Dhabi despite a penalty.
Season Low: A tough run to 16th in Malaysia.